I have seen a lot of different Christmas lists on different blog sites recently and I thought i'd share my two cents. My son is 4 and will be turning 5 in January and tends to be a little behind the learning curve. Don't get my wrong, my son is smart but he seems to need a little extra time grasping certain concepts and ideas sometimes. He does go to the special needs preschool in our local school district which, on a side note, I can't say enough for. So when it comes time to Christmas and then his birthday, I try to find him items that are educational but something he'll enjoy as well. I also try to find things that hopefully wont end up spread out all over or stuffed into his toy box. I have started putting a lot of his items into either shoebox totes or even gallon size totes, depending on what it is and how many he has. They stay stacked in his closet and all he has to do is go grab one and bring it down to his kids table in the living room, and then he can play with it. When he's done, he puts it away and grabs another one. This has helped tremendously in keeping all of the little parts together and letting them actually get played with.
This is my list of top items to purchase including a few items that he already has and plays with often.
Items we have:
1) Playskool Mr. Potato Head Silly Suitcase (35pcs.) - He loves putting this guy together. We purchased the Silly Suitcase set last Christmas but he has just recently started really playing with it. I actually lucked out and found a Potato Head lot on Craigslist that has 4 potatoes and a ton of pieces including a bunch of Disney character pieces. His only request this year was lots of little presents so I will be wrapping these up into smaller pieces so he has a bunch of presents to open.
2) Melissa & Doug Joey Magnetic Dress-Up He's a boy (obviously) so I got him the Joey set to play with. I don't have an issue with him playing with girl dolls, it just makes it easier for him to relate to since he is a boy after all. I then found a lot of two more girl sets at a local thrift sale and added those to his collection too. He has a lot of fun playing with these. He dresses them up, talks to them, has them talk to each other. It's cute to watch. Did I mention he has a very wild and creative imagination?
3) Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Wood Blocks SetEvery kid needs blocks to play with. These ones are great because they're colored too so you can match up colors with them as well. Adds an extra dimension to play. We did have some issue with my dogs trying to eat them so these really have to stay in their respective tote. lol. 100 blocks easily fits into a shoebox tote.
4) Hexbug - Nano and Hexbug Nano Habitat Set Gideon has one of these but but still needs a habitat. This little bug guy is so much fun to watch run around. He really enjoys it.
Top Items that we don't have but want:
1) K'NEX Lincoln Logs Double T Ranch This is like the blocks above. Every kid needs Lincoln Logs. While they are more expensive then I would like to spend, they're one of those things that last for ever. And nowadays, what doesn't cost more then it should? A great toy for creation and imagination.
2) LEGO Bricks & More I think a lot of things on my list this year are classics. But then again, doesn't that mean that they're the best toys? Gideon has a huge tote of Megabloks and a small container of DUPLO but now that he's getting older, I think it's time to start investing in real legos. There are so may collections out there to purchase but he's not quite to the point of creating a star wars ship or anything crazy. He's more of making cars, ships, and houses. Just the basic stuff.
3) MindWare Imaginets There are a lot of different styles of these out there so find what fits your budget and child but these are great for improving fine motor and visual skills. Gideon has these in his classroom at school and likes to play with them.
4) Marble Run Gideon was recently at a friend's house and his friend had a set of these. He LOVED them. The child figures out how to put them together and then gets to watch his hard work pay off and see the marble travel down. Helps with reasoning skills as the child manipulates his project and learns about basic physics.
5) Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set Like the marble set above, the child manipulates the gears to create a working project. Uses imagination and creativity for some wholesome fun that I bet even mom & dad will be interested in.
6) Haba Dancing Eggs Game You've probably never heard of this game. I'll have to admit i've never actually seen it played. I came across it while searching for kid games that adults would find fun too and it sounds like a blast. Some of the reviews I read did say it might be a good idea to get two sets though, especially if you have a lot of family members.
7) The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game A really cute game about some squirrels. What else do you need to know? LOL. In case you're wondering though, it helps to develop matching, counting, and fine motor skills.
I do have a few other gifts, specific to my son (he's obsessed with pirates). But that is the majority of his Christmas list. I hope this helps you in finding some great gifts for the kiddos in your life and maybe introduces you to something you hadn't heard of before!